Terquavion Smith scored a game-high 24 points, and North Carolina forced 20 Furman turnovers, including registering 17 steals, as the Wolfpack posted a 92-73 non-conference win over the Paladins Tuesday night at PNC Arena.
“The turnovers really bothered us but just as much as the turnovers bothered us, the switching bothered us and we’re not going to see a team until maybe a potential NCAA Tournament team that looks like that and that has the ability to press us like that and the ability to switch like that and we were stubborn with the ball…20 turnovers put them in transition and they finished with 23 fast-break points,” Furman head coach Bob Richey said of the Wolfpack.
“They have an NBA player out there…they were really long and they were able to switch with their bigs…We’re not going to see another team that looks like that and it’s not just because they pressed us but who they were pressing us with and their ability to be able to switch all of our guys in the halfcourt and we weren’t able to create separation and I am sure other teams will try it but will look at the film and better from it…I’ve got complete confidence in our guys and obviously we were without Joe [Anderson] tonight and not that that would have been the answer, but it certainly could have helped and we were better when we had three guards out there, and tonight we only had three and we weren’t able to sub those guys but if people try that we will adjust.” Richey added.
With the win, NC State improved to 9-3 overall, while Furman dropped to 7-4. The 92 points surrendered by the Paladins marked the most points given up by the Paladins this season, and it’s the most points that Furman has surrendered since giving up in regulation since Nov. 29, 2017 when the Paladins dropped a 93-74 decision at Timmons Arena against Winthrop. It also marked just the sixth time in the Bob Richey era (168 games) that the Paladins have surrendered 90 or more points to an opponent.
By contrast, it marked the fourth time the Wolfpack has scored 90 or more points in a game this season, having gone 4-0 in all of those games. The Wolfpack’s 17 steals against the Paladins matched their season-high, which they also registered in a 107-74 win over Florida International earlier this season.
Smith was one of five Wolfpack players that finished in double figures in the win, and the sophomore guard showed why he is one of the top NBA prospects in college basketball, as he connected on 9-of-17 shots from the field, including going 4-for-8 from three-point range. Smith also added five assists, four rebounds, three steals and blocked a shot.
Joining Smith in double figures for the Wolfpack in the contest Casey Morsell (17 points), Jack Clark (15 points), LJ Thomas (14 pts), and Jarkel Joiner (10 pts). Morsell was particularly key for the Wolfpack in the first half, helping NC State take control of the basketball game in the final 10 minutes of the opening half, with his accurate shooting from beyond the arc. Morsell finished going an impressive 4-of-9 from three-point land and finished the contest going 5-of-11 from the field.
As a team, the Wolfpack shot the ball at a 47.0% (31-of-66) clip from the field and connected on 40.0% (12-of-30) from three-point land, connecting on seven triples in the opening half, which helped stake the Wolfpack to a 48-29 halftime advantage. Furman finished the contest hitting shots at a 43.5% (27-of-62) clip for the game, which included a 28.1% (9-of-32) effort from three-point range.
The Paladins finished with only one player in double figures, as Mike Bothwell posted 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field, while also dishing out two assists and recording a pair of steals. Bothwell also went 6-of-8 from the charity stripe, as he was part of a 10-of-17 team performance from the free throw line.
Both J.P. Pegues and Garrett Hien finished on the cusp of double figure scoring efforts, posting nine points apiece in the road setback. Pegues and Hien also combined for 11 of the team’s 11 assists in the contest, with Pegues’ seven helpers eclipsing his previous career-high of six dimes, which he recorded a couple of weeks ago in a road win at Appalachian State. Marcus Foster finished with eight points, while Jalen Slawson added a team-leading seven rebounds, six points, three steals, two blocks and an assist.
Furman’s 20 turnovers matched its season-high, as the Paladins also committed 20 miscues in an 88-76 win over South Carolina State earlier this month.
NC State ended the night owning advantages in points off turnovers (19-8), points in the paint (34-32), fast break points (23-16), and total rebounds (40-39). Furman finished holding advantages in bench points (27-19), total assists (18-16), and second chance points (14-13).
How It Happened:
Furman’s Garrett Hien won the opening tap to give the Paladins the opening possession of the contest, and it would fittingly end on him converting a layup on a beautiful backdoor feed from J.P. Pegues to give the Paladins its only lead of the night, at 2-0, just 26 seconds into the contest.
The lead, however, would be only a brief one for the Paladins, as the Wolfpack scored the next 10 points to take control of the game, with a Casey Morrell’s three on the opening NC State possession giving the Wolfpack a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the remainder of the night.
The Paladins got back to within five on Pegues’ second three-pointer of the night, cutting the Wolfpack’s lead to five, at 15-10, with 13:43 to play in the opening half, however, the Wolfpack answered with a three of their own to commence what was an 11-0 run, as NC State saw its lead swell to its largest of the night at 16 points (26-10) following a layup and foul shot from Morsell with 11:52 remaining in the opening half.
The Paladins would respond with an impressive run of their own, reeling off 11-straight points of their own to get back to within five when Mike Bothwell took a perfect backdoor feed from Hien and converted the layup to make it a 26-21 contest with 11:52 remaining in the opening half. However, the Wolfpack would take control over the remaining portion of the opening half, assuming a double-digit lead once again when Jarkel Joiner hit a pair of free throws, which increased the Wolfpack’s lead back to 10, at 33-23, with 5:28 left in the opening half.
With just over a minute remaining in the opening half, a Terquavion Smith layup increased the Wolfpack’s lead to its largest of the night, at 44-26, and after Marcus Foster responded with a three-pointer for the Paladins, cutting it to 15, NC State scored the final five points of the opening half on a LJ Thomas three-pointer and a Joiner layup in transition, taking a 19-point, 48-29, lead to the break.
In the second half, NC State’s lead would grow to as much as 30, as Smith converted a steal into a one-handed tomahawk dunk and then following an Alex Williams made jumper for the Paladins, it was Smith’s three-pointer that staked NC State to its largest lead of the night, at 65-35, less than four minutes into the second half.
With the lead growing to 30 and the game now out of reach, Furman head coach Bob Richey decided to bench his five starters, and he had an emphatic message for his two team leaders—Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson—which was “y’all can’t do everything.”
“I benched the whole five that were out there and I put a new five in and if we had any hope we had to cut that thing to under 10 at 10 and we came out and they pushed it to 30 and I was just really frustrated with the mentality and the mentality that we played with and it just wasn’t good enough.”
Furman would never get closer than 17 points the remainder of the night, as the Wolfpack closed out their ninth win of the season by 19 points.
The Paladins will close out the non-conference slate at home with games on Dec. 17 and 19th, respectively, with games against Southland Conference foe Stephen F. Austin (5-4) and Anderson University (2-8).
The Paladins will face the Lumberjacks for the first time in school history on Saturday as a part of the Greenville Winter Invitational at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, with tip-off slated for approximately 4:30 p.m. EST. The Greenville Winter Invitational will also include games between Clemson and Richmond out of the Atlantic 10, with tip-off slated for 2 p.m. South Carolina will face off against American Athletic Conference member East Carolina directly following Furman’s contest against Stephen F. Austin.
With wins in its final two non-conference games, Furman will be a game better in the win column through non-conference play than they were a year ago at this time.
GAMES WHICH FURMAN HAS ALLOWED 90 OR MORE POINTS ALLOWED IN A GAME UNDER BOB RICHEY: (0-6)
Dec. 13, 2022 NC State 92, Furman 73
Nov. 15, 2021 Belmont 95, Furman 89 (OT)
*Mar. 6, 2021 VMI 91, Furman 90 (OT)
Feb. 3, 2018 The Citadel 100, Furman 92 (OT)
Nov. 29, 2017 No. 1 Winthrop 93, Furman 74
*-Denotes the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament